You have certainly heard of the blockchain revolution. Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and bitcoin are all over the news.
You may be intrigued, you may be horrified, or you may feel some of both.
But you can't afford to ignore major trends in new technology. Like it or not, blockchain is here to stay. And it will have the power to enable your business like never before.
For the moment, blockchain is in its nascent phase -- think of the internet in 1996. It's inaccessible to most nontechnical people, except through bitcoin and some of the gaming applications like CryptoKitties. So it's the perfect time to learn. You have time to get up to speed about blockchain before it represents a threat to your business. And when the technology matures, you will be prepared to capitalize on it.
Once you delve into this topic, you will find that blockchain will fuel much more than the overhyped cryptocurrency market. Blockchain technology, once the technology and infrastructure have evolved, will ultimately give rise to a host of applications that will become very useful.
So you cannot afford to ignore blockchain. Instead, educate yourself about it.
First, the basic primer about blockchain: Blockchain is a distributed, decentralized ledger based on "blocks," each of which is a record of a transaction. Multiple blocks are strung together to form a "blockchain." Information on the blockchain is encrypted -- it remains anonymous and secure. Individuals retain ownership of their personal information and also can be authenticated without giving up that privacy.
Here are three ways that blockchain will eventually transform your business.
1. Seamless payments
A few years ago, a local business sent someone to clean my couch. He said the company would invoice me. Several months later, I realized the company had never sent me an invoice. It took me three phone calls to get it to take my money.
Any decent invoicing system would solve the problem of not sending out customer invoices. Using a system on the blockchain will significantly enhance this process. It will enable seamless payments, straight to your mobile digital wallet, as soon as the service is completed or the product delivered.
Seamless payments will also extend to the ability to pay contractors, employees, and vendors in any currency. Payments will go directly into the receivers' digital wallets, eliminating the need for administration and allowing people and companies to get paid faster. Since the payment can be sent in any currency, this allows access to services and employees anywhere in the world.
To get a taste for this, check out Bitwage, a blockchain-powered international wage payment-processing company, or PayStand, which allows companies to track invoices and payments.
2. Decentralized marketplaces
Small and large merchants already have places to sell their goods and services -- just look at Amazon.
But there are downsides to those marketplaces for businesses. Since they act as the trusted third party, they are in the middle of every transaction. That leads to high costs for the privilege of being there and lag time for businesses to get their money.
Ultimately, blockchain technology will enable marketplaces to allow businesses to list their goods and services with a small fee or none at all. District is a good example. Through the use of smart contracts, District allows merchants to place their goods and services on this marketplace. It handles posting and listing, search filtering, payments, and "reputation management," which means you can trust those on the network to pay you.
3. Finding remote and project-based talent
How many times have you identified a specific project that you need to get done but none of your employees have skills or bandwidth to do it? That's when you need to find someone you can hire for a discrete project with a specific deadline. The gig economy has transformed the way companies and workers relate to work. Blockchain helps companies find temporary workers for specific projects, and enables gig workers to present themselves to opportunities seamlessly.
One company that is building a marketplace for this using blockchain technology is Dock. Dock is a "decentralized data exchange protocol that lets people connect their profiles, reputations, and experiences across the web with privacy and security." That allows freelancers to be in control of their information and to easily apply for opportunities when they see them in job marketplaces or through HR. And it's a clearing-house for your business to find excellent talent for specific projects.
These are three examples of how blockchain technology may mature to help your business. Take the time to learn about blockchain today to help power your business tomorrow.